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Godfrey woke the next morning, feeling as though he hadn’t slept at all. He laid on his back for a few seconds, trying to sort out the confusing dream he’d had about Sennett and Ki the night before.
After a few minutes, he realized that Liam was sitting up on his bed, looking down at his wrist pad. “Hey,” Godfrey said, sitting up.
“Hey,” Liam said. “Been thinkin’ about something. We should get the girls on a ship and take off. Just get away from all the stations. Maybe head to one of the planets. Do you think Sennett’s family on Khloe could take us in for a little bit?”
“Sennett doesn’t have any family on Khloe. April has an aunt, but she’s pretty pissed at us right now.”
“That’s a shame. Been getting some messages from some friends around the stations. They’re tellin’ me some scary shit about these auditors.”
Godfrey sat up, putting his feet on the ground. “Scary how?” he asked.
“They’re crackin’ down on the people. Setting curfews, leanin’ on the press. Handing out some harsh punishments. Scary shit.”
Godfrey ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t know quite how to ask this, but are you sure that the people you’re talking to are, well, trustworthy?”
“Sure they are,” Liam shrugged. “I mean, I wouldn’t leave my wallet out around them, but they’re good people. Like the crew that helped me rescue Sen.”
Liam got up, stretching. “We should go talk to her about this.”
“I don’t know that’s a good idea just yet,” Godfrey said.
“Why?” he asked. “She’s gotta know about this.”
“No, she doesn’t,” Godfrey replied. “For one thing, she’s supposed to be on vacation. For another, she’s probably not going to believe you. Sennett’s a big believer in law and order.”
Liam scowled at him. “You can be the one to tell her if you want.”
Godfrey looked up sharply. “Why would that matter?” he asked.
“Because you’re in love with Sennett, and you don’t like it when Liam talks to her,” Mason muttered from under his blanket.
“What?” Godfrey scoffed. “No, I’m not.”
“Sure, Man. That’s why your here on vacation with Sennett, while your wife is visiting her family,” Liam said.
“Anyway,” Godfrey snapped, “please at least wait until after I talk with Joy and Howard.”
“Why are you calling the marshals?” Mason asked.
“Because this is too much for us to deal with by ourselves,” Godfrey said. He rubbed the stubble on his chin. “I’m gonna call them now, actually. Before the girls get up.”
He sat down at the desk and ran his hand through his hair before making a call to Joy Wheatly.
When Joy answered the call, she was standing in the conference room. Her usually tightly coiled hair was hanging down her back in a simple plait. Standing next to her was Marshal Howard. His pale cheeks were red, and there was an unmistakable scowl on his face. At least, he was pretty sure that Howard was scowling. He’d never seen him do it before.
“Godfrey, what can I do for you?” Joy asked.
“Are you okay, Marshal?” Godfrey asked. “Looks like I’m interrupting something.”
“It’s nothing,” Joy said quickly, just as Howard started to open his mouth. “But we are busy this morning. So, what is it you’re calling about?”
“I just wanted to know if Councilwoman Akiko from Station Central talked to you about the Hollow Suits,” Godfrey said. “If anyone had talked to you about them, in fact.”
Howard and Joy exchanged quick looks. “Why do you ask, Godfrey?” Howard asked.
“Because we’re hearing some rumors. Rumors that maybe Akiko is hiding information about the Hollows,” Godfrey replied.
Joy shook her head. “That’s a serious charge. With Earth dark, Councilwoman Akiko is the defacto leader of all the stations. To suggest that she is withholding evidence-.”
“Have any rumors gotten to you about Hollow Suit information vanishing?” Howard asked.
Godfrey and Liam exchanged a look. “Yeah, yeah that’s exactly what we’ve been hearing.”
“Ha!” Howard snapped, pointing a finger at Joy. “I told you I didn’t lose it!”
Joy glowered at him. “Yes, you’re right. I’m sorry that I accused you. However, now we have a bigger concern.”
Howard’s face grew dark. “Yes, I suppose we do.”
“Wait, lose what?” Liam asked.
Joy and Howard both turned toward the screen. “All of the information that Sennett brought back from Station 16 has vanished. Every bit of it.” Howard said.
“We have some decisions to make, I think,” Joy said. “Mr. Anders, is there anything else you can tell us?”
“Yes,” Godfrey said, “there’s this reporter.”
But before he could go any further, the screen went blank. “What the hell?” Godfrey muttered. He tried to call them back. Instead, he got a cheerful cartoon of a dancing space station. “I’m sorry, but we can’t connect your message at this time. Please try again later,” it sang.
“Oh, shit,” Godfrey muttered.
Liam grabbed a pair of jeans from the dresser. “My runnin’ plan don’t sound so bad now, huh?”
“I’m not running. I’m going to see Akiko. She wants me to be a council member so bad? She might regret that.”
“Shit,” Liam replied. “Guess if you’re gonna do something that dumb, I’d better go with you.”
“I’ll come too,” Mason said.
“No,” Godfrey replied. “Stay here and tell Sennett we went to get some breakfast or something.”
Liam raised an eyebrow. “You don’t want Sen to know what we’re doing?”
“She’s not as good at irritating authority as I am, and you know she’ll want to come,” Godfrey replied.
Akiko’s secretary was sorry to tell Godfrey and Liam that she was in a meeting when they reached her office and that she couldn’t be pulled away.
“I’ll be happy to tell her you stopped by, Councilman,” he said, giving Godfrey a glistening smile.
“Thank you, but I’ll wait,” Godfrey replied, crossing his arms over his chest.
“She’d love to see you. But she does have a lot of commitments already today and I’m sure she wants to give you the time you deserve,” the secretary said.
“I’m sure she does,” Godfrey said. He didn’t move.
“Man, what’s the point of this again?” Liam whispered. “She ain’t gonna change her mind just because a couple farm boys go in there and start making a fuss.”
“Since when are you a farm boy?” Godfrey asked.
“They got farms all over, Man,” Liam replied.
“Excuse me, Councilman Anders?” the secretary said. “Councilwoman Akiko just messaged me. You can go in now if you still want to.”
“Thank you,” Godfrey said and headed for the door.
Akiko sat at a white desk with a bowl of yellow roses on one corner. She smiled at them, rising from her seat. “Godfrey, I heard you wanted to see me? And you have your friend with you. Sorry, I don’t remember your name?”
“Ain’t important,” Liam said quickly.
“Ah, alright,” Akiko said. Turning back to Godfrey, she said, “I only have a few minutes. What can I do for you?”
“You can explain why you lied to me, Councilwoman. At least I hope you can,” he said.
Akiko tilted her head and gave him a charming quizzical look. “I make it a point not to lie, Councilman.”
“Well, we all fall short of our ideals sometimes,” Godfrey shrugged. “See, you told me that you gave the information you had about the Hollow Suits to the other stations. But that wasn’t true. I spoke with the Marshals at Station 86. Not only did they never hear from you, but all of their Hollow Suit information has also vanished.”
Akiko sat back down. “Councilman Anders, I have been giving you a lot of leeway. I have looked the other way while your station flagrantly ignored basic policy. I’ve permitted you to speak with me and my son in ways I certainly do not permit from anyone else. But this accusation is just too insulting. Of course, I didn’t contact Station 86 about the Hollow Suits. You’re the station that gave me the information. Why would I have contacted them?”
“What about the information you’ve found since then?” Godfrey asked.
“We haven’t found any new information. If we do, I’ll tell you since you’re here. And the insinuation that I had something to do with your station losing vital information is insulting. It’s not my doing if your fellow council members can’t keep track of things while you’re gone.”
She sighed, and her face softened. “You’re from Earth, aren’t you? Southern North America, if I’m right?”
“Yes,” Godfrey said.
Akiko nodded sympathetically. “Politics are different there, from my understanding. More of an iron fist, that likes to take what it wants without a lot of thought to the people it takes from. I prefer a servant leadership philosophy myself.”
“That’s not really the point here,” Godfrey snapped.
“I think it might be. You and me, we’re not like the politicians you grew up with. But I understand where your distrust comes from. I promise you, I’m not hiding information from the other stations. We’re all in this together.”
“What about-,” Liam said, then stopped.
Godfrey and Akiko both turned to look at him. “Yes?” she asked.
“Nothin’,” Liam said. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Alright, then,” Akiko said. She came to stand next to Godfrey and put a hand on his shoulder. “Godfrey, I’m sorry I snapped at you. You’ve had such a different life than mine, it’s hard for me to comprehend.”
“Again, I really don’t think-,” Godfrey said, but Akiko swept him into a hug.
“I am so sorry,” Akiko said.
“Um, thank you,” Godfrey said. “Thanks for your time, Akiko.”
“Of course,” she said, finally releasing him. “Please feel free to come see me any time you have concerns.”
“Sure, yeah,” Godfrey said. “Um, there’s also been some rumors about some auditors enforcing things like curfews and silencing journalists. I guess it’s probably just people telling stories, but I figured you should know.”
Something flashed across Akiko’s face for just a moment. She regained her composure quickly, though. “Rumors, as you said I’m sure. I’ll look into them, though. You never want to ignore rumors like that. Do you remember what stations those were?”
“Can’t remember,” Godfrey said, shaking his head.
“Well, if you remember let me know,” Akiko said. “Now, I am so sorry to kick you gentlemen out, but I’ve got to get to a meeting.”
“Sure, sure,” Godfrey said. He started edging toward the door, hoping that Akiko wouldn’t decide to hug him again. “Thanks for talking to us.”
Once he and Liam were safely on the other side of the door, Godfrey whirled around to face him.
“What the hell was going on with you?” he hissed.
“What were you thinking, that I was gonna give that crazy bitch info on my friends?” Liam asked.
“You sure sounded like you were going to,” Godfrey snapped. “Then you stopped! You made it look like you were hiding something, man!”
Before Liam could reply, they were interrupted by a shout from Akiko’s office. “I don’t care, Tanner!” she bellowed. “Rumors are spreading-.” Her voice stopped suddenly, as though she realized she could be overheard.
Both men stopped and gave each other curious looks.
“Oh, Councilman, are you finished?” Akiko’s secretary called, rushing towards them. “Come with me. I’ll get you a cup of coffee before you leave.”
Copyright © 2019 by Nicole C. Luttrell
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Station 86 is shocked when a Khloe assassin begins killing members of the all powerful
council. Officer Sennett Montgomery and Councilman Godfrey Anders swear to find the assassin after Godfrey’s wife is falsely accused. But the killer, and the council itself, are not what they seem. Neither, as it turns out, is Sennett’s daughter.